The Beginning of Japanese Immigration

The first Japanese immigrant to settle in Canada was Manzo Nagano who arrived in British Columbia in 1877. He would later be followed by other fellow Japanese who were hoping for a new start in Canada.

Poorly educated at the time, the people who would refer to themselves as the Issei (first generation Japanese) found employment in the fishing, agriculture and forest industries. Some, after working hard and saving their money, managed to open their own businesses.

The first Japanese settled in Vancouver, British Columbia, notably in the Steveston fishing village. Some would eventually venture forth to the Okanagan and Fraser Valleys, even relocating to the areas near Kamloops and Raymond (Alberta).

In each of these regions, they would find employment in the usual sectors: forestry and mining, farming and market gardening. Many Japanese worked hard to implement services and local businesses for their community, which would eventually engender a burgeoning prosperity in Vancouver.

The 1901 census recorded about 5000 people of Japanese ancestry living in Canada, mostly in British Columbia. In 1907, this number reached nearly 8000.